The first step in the introduction of free healthcare for the nation has been taken by the Government but it has not been welcomed by the National Association of General Practitioners, whose CEO Chris Goodey appears to have reacted strongly against any such measures.
It is unclear how the proposed bill will affect pharmacists, if at all. However, it is known that Darragh O’Laughlin, general secretary of the Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU) recently met Alex White, TD, the Minister of State at the Health Department to discuss the future role of pharmacists within the Republic.
Darragh is quoted as saying, “We currently have a dysfunctional health service with huge pressures on GPs, hospitals and emergency services. Pharmacists, as healthcare professionals – and as the most accessible part of the healthcare service – can help (to) bridge some of the gaps, which exist in our primary care and healthcare systems.”
The proposed bill regarding free GP healthcare for children under the age of six is the first step towards the introduction of free GP care for the entire population.
“Over 240,000 children across Ireland will benefit from this innovative public health policy,” said White. “The Government has provided new, additional funding of €37 million to meet the cost of this measure. This is really good news for young families and it represents a significant milestone in the reform of our health services.”
Goodey’s response on behalf of NAGP members was to accuse the Minister of ignoring the GPs’ genuine concerns regarding these proposals.
He said, “The use of bully boy tactics and efforts to coerce GPs into signing an unworkable contract beg(gar)s belief. Any attempt by the Government to alter existing legally binding contracts, without negotiation between the HSE and the NAGP will be vigorously challenged within the court system. Make no mistake; the NAGP will defend the rights of GPs and their patients using all means available.”
The Cabinet has agreed that the bill should be published and introduced to the Oireachtas and is hoping that the measures contained therein will become law by the end of July.
Joseph JohnstonTags: Chris Goodey, Free healthcare, National Association of General Practitioners